Election watchdogs to check £2,000 Straw gift

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Indy Politics

Election watchdogs are to review a £2,000 donation to Jack Straw's local Labour Party after claims it was made by a company which does not trade in Britain. The Electoral Commission said it was looking into a complaint by the Tory MP Ben Wallace about the donation from Westminster International Consultants. The money was accepted by the Blackburn Labour Party on 1 April 2005. But there have been claims that the firm did not do business in Britain.

Under electoral law, donations from companies are permissible only if the firm is trading in the United Kingdom. If the donation is found to have been against the rules, the party could be forced to repay the money.

Siraj Karbhari, a former Labour councillor in Blackburn, who was listed by Mr Straw as the proprietor of WIC, says he is a British citizen and made the donation as an individual, arguing that listing it as a company donation was a "mistake".

A spokesman for the commission said officials would review the complaint before deciding on a full investigation. A spokesman for Mr Straw said he would co-operate fully.

In January, Mr Straw was accused of being "negligent" over his failure to declare a £3,000 gift. Mr Straw was criticised for the "inadvertent breach" of Commons rules over a gift from the Texas-based energy firm Canatxx Ventures. The money helped pay for the MP's 25th anniversary dinner at Blackburn Rovers' stadium in 2004.

Mr Straw said at the time that his failure to declare the gift was due to "a chapter of accidents".